International Women's Day: Empowering Women in Fashion

International Women’s Day provides an important opportunity to reflect on progress, celebrate achievements, and call each other to action. While we have seen the sweeping success of the global “Me Too” movement addressing sexual violence towards women, we are eager to draw attention to the women who are -and continue to be- negatively impacted by the fashion industry.

Amaella Sustainable FashionAmaElla Empowering Women Through Fashion

Women & The Fashion Industry

There is something poetic about focusing on the fashion industry on International Women’s Day, as the UN suggests in New York City in 1909. The New York Shirtwaist Workers’ Strike saw over 20,000 women demonstrate their collective power in protest of unfair pay and unsafe working conditions. Although nearly a hundred years later, this is a fight that many women still face today.

The garment industry disproportionally employs women over men, with roughly 80% of the global garment workforce comprised of women between the ages of 18-35. Most of these women are employed in the developing world in countries like Bangladesh, Vietnam and Cambodia where labour laws are less strict, work is less regulated, and women have less power.

Documentaries exploring the average life of a garment worker show the cramped and dangerous working conditions that characterise most employment, while also revealing tales of sexual harassment, abuses of power, and the precarious nature of employment in the industry in general. There are rarely fixed term contracts, sick days, maternity leave or any of the other benefits that we have evolved to view as basic worker’s rights.

While women certainly characterise the majority of the workforce of the garment industry, do they get to share in the power? Unsurprisingly, no.

Even across Europe and America, the wealth and power associated with the fashion industry is largely controlled and enjoyed by men. In fact, of the 25 richest people in the fashion industry, only 3 are women!

Let’s Talk Change

It is time that we protect and empower women across all levelsof the fashion industry- from garment workers, to managers, to owners and everyone in between.

We can fight to create positive change for women in the industry by supporting brands that empower and elavate their female work force. So let’s turn this momentum and thought into action, and start seeking out brands that are run by women, for the benefit of women!

At Mamoq, we are proud that nearly 70% of the brands we partner with are owned and operated by women, and most have explicit polices and strategies in place to empower the women that they work with -because empowered women help to empower other women.

Here are a few of the incredible female entrepreneurs and change makers that we have the pleasure of working with: 
Mayamiko Female Empowerment
Founder of Mayamiko, Paola Masperi (Bottom Right), pictured with part of the Mayamiko team in Malawi. Mayamiko provides extensive training to their workforce- 90% of which is female. They also provide daycare and other life skills that help women to balance the responsibilities of home and work.

 

"I am convinced, we all are at Mayamiko that no woman is going to feel comfortable and proud wearing the oppression of another woman. Conversely, women will proudly wear their positive impact if they are able to deeply connect. When that connection is reignited at a deeper level, the new norm will not be: ‘look, this was such a bargain’, but it will be ‘look, this amazing dress was made in Malawi by Jane, I love it and I will treasure it’." - Paola Masperi, Owner & Founder of Mayamiko

Female Empowerment KTO
Charlotte Instone, Founder & Owner of Know The Origin with a female textile partner in India.

 

"Our generation is passionately protesting for women’s rights everywhere, whilst wearing clothes that suppress the rights of women globally. There has never been a more important time to care about where our clothes have come from and the millions of incredible women who made them." -  Charlotte Instone, Founder & Owner of Know The Origin

Female Empowerment Tales of Thread Rebecca Fordham, Owner & Founder of Tales of Thread. Tales of Thread employs an 85% female workforce and prioritises partnerships with female-owned production partners.

 

"Research shows that if women are able to earn an income, they know what the greatest needs of the family are and how to use the money for the greatest possible impact....Tales of Thread works with excluded and impoverished communities to help to provide sustainable employment, actively promote childcare needs and prevent domestic violence." - Rebecca Fordham, Owner & Founder of Tales of Thread

 A few other thoughts in celebration of International Women's Day from all of the empowering FEMALE founders that we partner with:

"We are a female-founded and owned social enterprise and we also donate 100% of our profit to women entrepreneurs...International Women's Day is very special to RubyMoon as it was the day we launched in 2011, so it's our 7th anniversary and we are proud to have helped 400 women so far." - Jo Godden, Founder & Owner of RubyMoon

"Vegan and ethical fashion is an area where women are in the majority. What makes me especially happy is that we don’t think of each other as competitors but more as entrepreneurs working for the same goalthat is bigger than the profit and bigger then us: a sustainable future. We empower and help each other, this is a whole new way of making business." - Dora Haller, Founder & Owner of Independent Fox

"When I was just starting I did a lot of sampling with different suppliers and I noticed that women, in general, were very engaged with their work; when something went wrong there were no excuses but rather explanations, there was no blaming, but alternatives; besides their work they showed me empathy and honesty, which I value a lot. I believe the reason is that these women started from zero, like me, and since we know opportunities are few, we demand ourselves the best we can deliver. Furthermore, I believe we recognize ourselves in each other, so we have created a solid relationship of respect and support." - Andrea Sanabria Oviedo, Founder & Owner of La Petite Mort

"... Women make up the huge majority – a massive 80% – of the workforce that creates fast fashion... we women in the developed world with a taste for bargains and fast fashion are condemning our sisters in the less developed world to a pretty tragic existence. So on International Women’s Day let’s think about these women who make our clothes.  Let’s choose to buy from brands (like Where Does It Come From?!) that can show you that garment makers - right back through spinning and weaving of the fabric to the dyeing, printing and tailoring of the garment – are being treated as you would wish them to be.  Then we’ll really be celebrating and supporting women." - Jo Salter, Founder and Owner of Where Does It Come From

"Whatever the physical appearance of a person (m/f). We’re all connectedwith the same universal energy and I would like to see that we collaborate on this basis, where everyone is equal to one another. " - Elsien Gringhuis, Founder, Owner & Designer of Elsien Gringhuis

 "Today I'm celebrating all the beautiful brave sisters in the industrybut also mine and KIKS' roots: my mum and my grandmothers. Supporting creativity, crafting skills and diy-attitude since childhood but also setting a beautiful example on recycling and reusing materials!" - Katja Iljana, Designer, Founder & Owner of KIKS

"KEMP GADEGÅRD is proud to be 100% owned and run by women. The same can be said about our production studio in Barcelona/Granada, nurturing a long history of garment manufacturing in Spain and empowering women's economic development." Maya Byskov Gadegaard, Co-founder & Co-owner of KEMP GADEGÅRDalong with (female) partner Eilis Kemp Arizmendi

" There's a Chinese proverb that says 'women hold up half the sky'. However, we are often denied the opportunity to hold up our half of the sky - not by law perhaps, but certainly through other more compelling forces such as culture, society and deeply ingrained bias. As a woman, creating success in business (however you define it)means believing fiercely in yourself, and steeling yourself to work twice as hard to get half as far. It means learning to be resourceful, recruiting allies (both women and men) who are vocal supporters, and continuing to knock on closed doors because you realise that the endless "nos" are really "not yets" that will turn into a "yes". Entrepreneurship has opened up extraordinary opportunities and afforded me a flexibility I couldn't have dreamed of in a traditional job. It also means I can pave a path to make it easier for more women to follow, and that is what makes it really exciting to keep going. Let's keep making footsteps, so that soon it will be impossible for any woman to say 'I can't do it'." - Rosh Govindaraj, Founder & Owner of Issara

"I love being a female entrepreneur. This day is all about celebrating the equality of men and women and how we can make a difference to this world no matter what gender we are. Many of the most influential women work in the fashion industry, take Anna Wintour (Editor-in -chief at Vogue) as an example. She and many others show the world that a woman has as much influential power as a man."- Catherine Price, Founder & Owner of Ted & Bessie

"Everyday is Women’s Day! Everyday an entrepreneur woman launches a new product, creates a brand, opens a new store… Let’s celebrate our everydayness, our strength, our passion and compassion. Let’s celebrate that we are changing the world for good." - Sarah Moñino, Founder of The Salvage

"It’s so inspiring to be a part of the sustainable fashion movement where you see amazing women like Madara Freimane, co-founder of What’s Your Legacy, and Eleanor O’Neill, founder of STUDY34, creating wonderful things that are helping to drive change in the fashion industry." - Veryan Raiker, Founder of Veryan

"For International Women's Day, we celebrate those women migrants who have shaped society. Your courage, creativity and ambition inspired us to tell your stories on scarves. Discover the emotional story of Adela Kuliga from Poland and the empowering testimony of Selma Prodanovic from Bosnia." - Iulia Mugescu, Co-Founder of (female owned) Younited Cultures

"As a female entrepreneur this international women's day, I'd like to celebrate the Women that continue to support my business with encouragement, love and support. Particularly my Mum. My mum has been an amazing support throughout the Zola Amour journey and has been integral to the development of the company, most recently setting up our manufacturing unit in Warwickshire. Without her, Zola Amour would be a shadow of where it has got to since launching last year." - Emily Evans, Founder & Owner of Zola Amour

AmaElla, Tizz & Tonic,Flock By Nature, Jute Laune, Rakha, and Semuraare also all female-owned labels. 

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